It’s not all about who will win the World Cup in Russia, but also who will crash and burn – Argentina are a strong contender for this…but what about Germany? Here’s a top 5


5) Germany

Are we serious? There’s absolutely no way Germany won’t reach the final stages of the tournament. They have the style, the consistency, the youth, the experience, the flair and the attitude. Their track record is flawless in big tournaments, having reached the semi-finals in all the 21st century World Cups. They are the current holders of the winner’s belt and they are as reliable as a cast-iron frying pan.

Even if they are ultimately beaten, there’s no way they don’t put up a hell of a fight. Seed number one and the safest bet for this World Cup, hands down.

Crashing prediction: 1% chance

4) Brazil

Mighty Brazil are back thanks to Tite. They’re confident, looking good, easily winning the preparation friendlies before the big event and have a recovered and fresh Neymar to boost the players’ morale.

We’re talking about a potential semi-finalist here, but we shouldn’t forget that ‘crashing and burning is also a phrase that can be applied to teams with too big an expectation. In Brazil, nobody will accept a knock-out before the final. The ‘Canarinha’ is one of their main sources of national pride. Take the 2014 devastating loss against Germany: a wound that is yet to be healed.

Crashing prediction: 10% chance

3) Spain

In the months running up to the World Cup, Spain have surprised and marvelled at their fanbase with high-quality football and, above all, an impeccable resumé in the results side of the business. They have earned enough goodwill for people to forget their disastrous Euro 2016 and the severely lacklustre 2014 World Cup…

… although that looming feeling that something isn’t quite ‘right’ has come back with a vengeance with the last two friendlies versus Switzerland and Tunisia. One draw and a narrow win keep Spain unbeaten, but the optimism has tempered down quite a bit. Spain have problems when creating chances lately, and that is worrying when considering the playing style and traits of most of the opposition they will face in Russia. Last 16? Undoubtedly. But what will happen in the quarterfinals?

Crashing prediction: 20% chance

2) Argentina

We can all agree on this one: with Leo Messi, Argentina are a force to be reckoned with. Any single team in the world can only watch and pray if the number 10 is on one of his ‘inspired’ evenings. However, should Messi lower his performance or – we hope not – have physical problems, Argentina’s options of climbing the World Cup ladder drastically drop.

In fact, it’s pretty amazing to see how the mighty Albiceleste, traditionally one of the national teams with the most hunger and experience in World Cups, has come down to relying on one single player. They have big, huge names in their ranks such as Angel Di María, Nicolas Otamendi, Paolo Dybala, and Sergio Agüero…but everything comes down to Leo. And this, in the latter stages, might be the key to their demise.

Crashing prediction: 50% chance – 100% if Messi gets injured

1) Portugal

Let’s face it: nobody would have predicted that Portugal would win Euro 2016. They weren’t the best team, they didn’t have the best players…but they had Cristiano Ronaldo in top shape and that pinch of luck you always need in these competitions.

The group stage will be challenging enough, duking it out with Spain while they seek first place. Should they qualify as the second in the standings, both Egypt and Uruguay have something that Cristiano and his pals dread: pretty tight defensive systems and very aggressive players in the midfield. With Ronaldo as the only ‘star’ of the show, relying on players such as Gonçalo Guedes is expected, but possibly too much to ask from Valencia’s winger in his first World Cup. Will they make it into the quarter-finals? It doesn’t seem likely.

Crashing prediction: 60% chance

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